Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry Ebbers


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how peer mentors make meaning out of using Facebook as a virtual learning community. With the prevalence of Facebook usage by college students, and the introduction of Facebook into academic settings by educators, program facilitators, administrators, and recruiters, researchers have begun to examine the impact of Facebook as a virtual learning community. Currently, there has been a missing voice in the research, the voice of the students involved in the use of Facebook as a virtual learning community. Facebook presents itself as an ideal vehicle for a virtual learning community, but it's not known how students perceive the use of a social tool in an educational setting.

The current literature is mainly quantitative in nature, focuses on how students use Facebook in a social setting, and addresses student academic performance resulting from the use of Facebook as a social tool. This case study examined how peer mentors perceive the use of their social tool in an academic setting. The current literature on virtual learning communities is beginning to examine Facebook usage, but not how the students perceive the use of Facebook as an academic tool. The participants for this case study were five peer mentors who had belonged to the virtual learning community the previous year. These peer mentors had two years of experience within virtual learning communities that were hosted as Facebook groups.

The peer mentors shared their experiences of what they believed made Facebook work as a virtual learning community. One might expect that the peer mentors would recommend using Facebook in all classes, especially given that the peer mentors believed that society held a perception that students are constantly on Facebook. The peer mentors described specific settings, actions, and requirements of the program facilitator needed in order to make Facebook function as a virtual learning community.

The study provided a voice to the peer mentors, and the peer mentors provided direct messages to those who might use Facebook in how they believed Facebook should be used as a virtual learning community. I proposed a model for implementing Facebook as a virtual learning community in higher education settings. The model was constructed through a careful examination of existing literature and based upon data from my case. The purpose of a case study is to lay the foundation for future research; this case study laid the foundation for future examination into the academic implications for students who use Facebook as a virtual learning community.


Copyright Owner

Jerome Hilscher



File Format


File Size

166 pages